When To Seek Treatment
Any of the above symptoms of a kidney infection requires a visit to Oxford Urology Associates.
Do not wait if you have a quick change in the severity of any symptom. Waiting can result in a blood infection known as sepsis. This serious condition is noted by rapid breathing and heart rate, rash, lethargy, elevated blood pressure, fever, chills, and confusion.
Dont wait if you are pregnant since a kidney infection may cause low birth weight.
Dont wait if you are being treated for a UTI with no improvement in your symptoms.
Dont wait if you suddenly are vomiting and have bloody urine.
How Can You Tell If You Have A Kidney Infection
Two common laboratory tests are performed to diagnose kidney infections . A urine sample is examined under a microscope to determine if white and/or red blood cells are present. The urine is also sent to the lab to see if bacteria grow in a urine culture. If a person is very sick, blood cultures may also be sent.
Reasons Your Negative Uti Test Could Be Wrong
Lets just put it out there that if you have received negative results for a urine culture, but you still have symptoms, it is very possible you have a UTI. Unfortunately, these testing issues can add another layer of confusion and uncertainty when seeking answers.
This happens very frequently, and we can help explain why below. Its also a good idea to have an understanding of how a standard urine culture works.
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Treatments For Kidney Infections
Your doctor may first prescribe a general antibiotic. When the lab results come in, they may switch to a specific antibiotic that treats the type of infection you have. It’s common to have antibiotics prescribed for at least two weeks. It’s important to complete the antibiotic course so that the infection doesn’t return.
If your infection is severe, you may have to be hospitalized. Antibiotics, as well as fluids, may be given through an IV in your arm to ensure the drug will reach the kidneys.
If your infection is due to an underlying medical problem such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate, you might have to be referred to a specialist for treatment.
Swollen Or Puffy Face
Why this happens:
Failing kidneys don’t remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the face.
What patients said:
My sister, her hair started to fall out, she was losing weight, but her face was really puffy, you know, and everything like that, before she found out what was going on with her.
My checks were always puffy and tight. Sometimes they would even hurt.
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Apple Cider Vinegar For Utis
Apple cider vinegar is widely known and used for its amazing health benefits, and its a natural remedy for UTIs, too. Its acidifying nature is great at clearing UTIs, and it helps prevent bacteria from spreading, stopping the infection before it reaches the kidneys. Try Braggs organic raw apple cider vinegar. Its gluten-free and contains Mother of Vinegar, a healthy bacteria that occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. Its also loaded with vitamins and prebiotics, which relieve and prevent UTIs.
A version of this article first appeared in our print magazine.
Kidney Infection Symptoms And Complications
Typically, the infection causes painful urination . This discomfort may also be followed with other symptoms such as:
The symptoms can develop quickly, within a few hours. Kidney infection can be serious and should not be left untreated the treatment is necessary!
With quick and appropriate treatment, it should be harmless and doesnt pose to other health risks, though it often makes patient feel very unwell. If the infection is left untreated, it can be potential to cause serious complications such as:
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How Is A Kidney Infection Diagnosed
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, do a physical exam, and likely run some diagnostic tests. Those include a urinalysis, to check your pee under a microscope for bacteria and white blood cells, which your body makes to fight infection, and a urine culture to help find out what kind of bacteria is causing the infection, the NIDDK says. Your doctor may even take a blood sample to check for bacteria or other organisms in your blood, the Mayo Clinic says.
Other tests that might come up include an ultrasound, a CT scan, or a form of X-ray called a voiding cystourethrogram, which involves injecting a contrast dye to take X-rays of your bladder when its full and while youre peeing, per the Mayo Clinic.
Additional Symptoms From A Uti
Your kidneys are a pair of organs located in the middle of your back, just below your ribs. Their primary function is to filter waste from your blood into your bladder for elimination. Kidney infections are caused by pathogens like certain kinds of bacteria in one or both of these organs.
How do you know if you have a kidney infection? Symptoms tend to set in suddenly over just hours or days.
The most common symptoms of an infection include:
- Pain in your lower back, side, or genital regions
- A fever with a temperature possibly as high as 103?
In most cases, the bacteria that cause your kidney infection originate in your digestive tract. E. coli from your bowels causes between 75% and 90% of all cases of kidney infection. Other pathogens that can cause kidney infections include Enterobacteriaceae other than E. coliand S. saprophyticus.
If youre experiencing many of the symptoms listed above and have had an untreated urinary tract infection for an extended period, then you most likely have a kidney infection. But keep in mind that not all people with a kidney infection have the added symptoms of a UTI.
These additional symptoms include:
- The urgent need to urinate
- Frequent urination that might also be painful
- Urine thats cloudy, dark, or smells bad
- Blood in your urine
- The feeling that you cant fully empty your bladder
- Pain in your lower abdomen the area around your belly
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Pus Or Blood In Your Urine
In most cases, your doctor would only see this if they did a dipstick urine test. Its because your urethra is inflamed and it could be shedding a little bit of blood, she explains. However, it is is possible that you might actually see blood when you go to the bathroom. As for pus, that would be more common in very complicated kidney infections, and would show up as white cells on the dipstick test.
Swelling In Hands Or Feet
Why this happens:
Failing kidneys don’t remove extra fluid, which builds up in your body causing swelling in the legs, ankles, feet, and/or hands.
What patients said:
I remember a lot of swelling in my ankles. My ankles were so big I couldn’t get my shoes on.
Going to work one morning, my left ankle was swollen, real swollen, and I was very exhausted just walking to the bus stop. And I knew then that I had to see a doctor.
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Food Tastes Like Metal
Why this happens:
A build-up of wastes in the blood can make food taste different and cause bad breath. You may also notice that you stop liking to eat meat, or that you are losing weight because you just don’t feel like eating.
What patients said:
Foul taste in your mouth. Almost like you’re drinking iron.
I don’t have the appetite I had before I started dialysis, I must have lost about 10 pounds.
What Is Chronic Kidney Disease
Its important to know the differences between chronic kidney disease and kidney infections. But keep in mind that both require medical attention as soon as possible.
The symptoms of kidney infections tend to appear suddenly, but many forms of chronic kidney disease have no initial symptoms. CKD symptoms dont appear until your kidneys are badly damaged. They can include many of the symptoms of a kidney infection and symptoms that are not common in kidney infections.
Examples of these additional symptoms include:
- Swelling from fluid build-up in your ankles, feet, hands, or face
- Feeling cold from anemia
- Dizziness and trouble concentrating, regardless of age
Untreated kidney infections or kidney infections that keep coming back can scar your organs. Over time this can lead to chronic kidney disease. But antibiotics usually treat kidney infections effectively, so you can prevent your infection from developing into CKD.
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When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you have a fever and persistent tummy, lower back or genital pain, or if you notice a change to your usual pattern of urination.
Most kidney infections need prompt treatment with antibiotics to stop the infection from damaging the kidneys or spreading to the bloodstream. You may also need painkillers.
If you’re especially vulnerable to the effects of an infection for example, if you have a pre-existing health condition or are pregnant, you may be admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotics through an intravenous drip.
After taking antibiotics, you should feel completely better after about two weeks.
In rare cases, a kidney infection can cause further problems. These include blood poisoning and a build-up of pus in the kidney called an abscess.
Who’s Most Likely To Get A Kidney Infection
Women and children are most at risk of developing a kidney infection, as well as other urinary tract infections such as cystitis.
In women, the urethra is closer to the anus than in men, making it easier for bacteria from the anus to enter the urethra accidentally. The female urethra is also much shorter than the male urethra . This makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder and move into the kidneys.
Other factors can also put you more at risk of developing a kidney infection, including:
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What Causes A Kidney Infection
Most often, the bacteria that cause a kidney infection are the same as those that cause ordinary urinary tract infections. Bacteria found in bowel are the most common type. In rare cases, kidney infections can be caused from bacteria found on the skin or in the environment.
Bacteria enter the body from the skin around the urethra. They then travel up the urethra to the bladder. A kidney infection happens when the bacteria escape the bladder and urethra and travel up the ureters to one or both kidneys. Usually it is only one kidney that develops an infection.
Sometimes, conditions that create a reduced urine flow can contribute to kidney infections. Chiefly because bacteria can more easily travel up the ureters when urine flow slows or stops altogether.
A kidney infection can occur at any age and is much more common in women than men. This is because women are more at risk of developing a bladder infection, which can then spread to the kidneys. This happens because a womans urethra is closer to the anus allowing bacteria to be easily introduced from the bowel and to travel up the urethra.
Other common ways bacteria can find its way into the bladder include:
How Do You Know If There’s Something Wrong With Your Kidneys
Signs of Kidney Disease
- You’re more tired, have less energy or are having trouble concentrating. …
- You’re having trouble sleeping. …
- You have dry and itchy skin. …
- You feel the need to urinate more often. …
- You see blood in your urine. …
- Your urine is foamy. …
- You’re experiencing persistent puffiness around your eyes.
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When To See A Gp
See a GP if you feel feverish and have pain that will not go away in your tummy, lower back or genitals.
Contact a GP immediately if you think your child may have a kidney infection.
If you cannot get a GP appointment and need urgent medical attention, go to your nearest urgent care centre .
If you do not have a local UCC, go to your nearest A& E.
Is There Anything I Can Do To Prevent A Kidney Infection
When it comes to preventing a kidney infection, its all about preventing UTIs that affect your urethra and bladder. Here are some ways you can help avoid an infection:
- Wipe from front to back. For women, this ensures bacteria from your anus doesnt enter your urethra.
- Drink plenty of water to help flush the urinary tract.
- Dont hold it. Use the bathroom when you need to go.
- Avoid using spermicide and diaphragms, and choose another form of birth control, such as lubricated condoms.
- Use the bathroom after sex to reduce bacteria that colonizes the urethra. There is no convincing data that it is effective, but it isnt harmful, Dr. Sussman added.
- Postmenopausal women who develop recurrent cystitis may benefit from vaginal estrogen to reduce vaginal dryness.
- Dont rely on over-the-counter remedies to treat your UTI, like cranberry juice or D-Mannose, to prevent a UTI or kidney infection. Several studies have shown no benefit with cranberry supplements or juice, Dr. Sussman said.
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Consume Apples And Apple Juice
Apples are also nutrient-dense. Their high acid content may help the kidneys to maintain acidity in the urine, possibly inhibiting further growth of bacteria. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial in helping the kidneys to heal following the infection. Learn more about the many health benefits of apples.
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Back Side Or Groin Pain
Your kidneys are located deep against the back muscles in your upper abdominal area, so its common to experience pain in that region. If Im examining you, Im going to first tap you on the back where your kidneys are and people with a kidney infection will likely jump right off the table from the pain, says Leisman. Thats because your kidneys are in a capsule where theres not a lot of space, so if it gets inflamed at all, its incredibly painful.
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How Can I Prevent Kidney Infections
The following simple measures can help to prevent kidney infections:
- Drink plenty of water to flush bacteria out of your urethra and bladder. Drink 1.5 to 2 litres a day and aim for pale yellow urine.
- Don’t delay peeing avoid ‘holding on’.
- Make sure your bladder is as empty as possible every time you go.
- Women should always wipe from the front to the back after going to the toilet.
- Pee before and soon after sexual intercourse.
When To See A Doctor
If you have signs of a kidney infection, you should see a doctor right away. Again, a kidney infection is seriousit can sometimes lead to a dangerous, life-threatening health condition called , the NIDDK says. Even if your infection doesnt progress to that, a kidney infection can become chronic, i.e., long-lasting, and can cause permanent damage to your kidneys, the NIDDK says. Kaufman recommends heading to your local urgent care facility or emergency room if you have signs of a kidney infection.
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How Is The Infection Spread
It is difficult to spread a UTI between individuals, as the type of bacteria causing the infection is almost never contagious.
The most common way that a UTI is contracted is through the movement of bacteria from the anus to the urethra, either when wiping after going to the toilet or during sexual intercourse. Taking care during each of these activities can help to prevent the transfer of bacteria, which may then have the opportunity to overgrow.
Vigorous sexual intercourse may also lead to symptoms of UTI or cystitis in women , although there may be no bacteria present.
Fatigue Being Tired All Of The Time
Why this happens:
Healthy kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin , or EPO, that tells your body to make oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As the kidneys fail, they make less EPO. With fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen, your muscles and brain tire very quickly. This is anemia, and it can be treated.
What patients said:
I was constantly exhausted and didn’t have any pep or anything.
I would sleep a lot. I’d come home from work and get right in that bed.
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